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Healthy Doug Martin ready for big year

TAMPA, Fla. – Without even realizing it, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin sent out a fantasy football alert Wednesday.

Martin said he feels better than he has at any point since his rookie season. That’s good news for fantasy football players. Martin rushed for 1,454 yards as a rookie in 2012. His production dipped to a total of 950 yards last two years as he dealt with an assortment of injuries.

But Martin is healthy now and has been one of the stars of training camp.

“I’ve spent more time in the training room," Martin said. “Even if I’m not injured, it’s all about injury prevention. That’s something I’ve learned being in the league. I’ve just got to take care of my body. If I take care of my body and stay in my playbook, I’ll be just fine."

The Bucs sent out conflicting signals about Martin in the offseason. They elected not to pick up the fifth-year option (for 2016) on his rookie contract. But they have maintained all along that Martin remains their starting tailback.

Coach Lovie Smith gave Martin another vote of confidence Wednesday.

“We would just like for him to continue what he’s been doing," Smith said. “We’ve all taken notice. It seems like he has a little more bounce to his step, running with confidence. And he needs to. It’s an important year for Doug and for our football team to establish the run game and Doug’s our starting tailback. We talk about the commitment to the run. He’s done it before. There’s no reason he can’t do it again."

Martin said he’s ready for a big season if he can stay healthy.

“The sky is the limit," Martin said. “We have a lot of potential going into this year with this team. We have a lot of weapons and a lot of guys with fire in them that want to be successful. I just can’t wait to get out there with them."